by John Copley
Edmonton’s City Centre Mall is a vibrant and thriving downtown shopping centre for local residents and guests and visitors from across the world seeking everything from a quick lunch and a new pair of new shoes or leather coat to vacation travel information, health and medical supplies, flowers for that special occasion – even a trip to the movies. The mall’s dozens of stores are conveniently located indoors, thus ensuring a quiet and relaxing atmosphere unaffected by adverse weather conditions or noisy street traffic. Like most shopping centres throughout the Capital Region Edmonton City Centre counts on the citizens of Edmonton and area for its primary income and as such caters to the needs of every citizen and every potential shopper.
“We embrace our responsibilities as a civic-minded business cheerfully and with as much humour as we can muster,” noted Oxford Properties Group and mall Marketing Director, Greg Burns BPR, in a recent interview.
“Yes we have had an occasion or two that has drawn some publicity, not necessarily in the way we would have hoped, but through meaningful apologies, constructive dialogue and reconstructed employee awareness programs, we have learned from our mistakes to overcome any negativity that may have been shed toward us. What’s important is that moving forward our customers can be assured that we continue to take our responsibilities seriously and with a great deal of insight and forethought.”
Edmonton City Centre has been involved with the region’s Aboriginal communities for nearly a decade and has been a proud supporter of the National Aboriginal Day celebrations for the past eight years.
“Edmonton City Centre,” assured Burns, “is dedicated to providing a welcoming, inclusive, safe environment for everyone who visits our shopping centre. We value the rich diversity of our growing Aboriginal community and other diverse cultural groups in our city. We are committed, as individuals and as a company, to being active and engaged citizens and community members and we have launched several initiatives during the last year to ensure that Edmonton City Centre continues to develop a viable and meaningful Community Action Plan.”
That plan begins with education.
“We see education and training as an ongoing activity that ensures understanding and inclusion of all cultures within our city,” noted Burns.
“Cultural sensitivity training has been completed for all our regular and contract employees and we continue to actively seek out other educational opportunities and experiences for our staff members. Positive community relations are an integral part of our business strategy and as such we are committed to working closely with other organizations in our community to make our space and our city as safe, welcoming and inclusive as possible.”
In order to embrace a more active role in the community, Edmonton City Centre has formed a Community Network – Aboriginal Council to work directly with Oxford Properties in a consultative role in building and maintaining positive community relations.
“We are also working with neighbourhood organizations, and others, to identify community programs that Edmonton City Centre can support and become engaged in. We understand that the community extends beyond our doors and that we can play a role in making the community a better place for all.”
When it comes to employee engagement, Edmonton City Centre Mall is on top of its game.
“We are embracing this journey and listening to our stakeholders, our customers and to the broader community,” noted Burns.
“Our commitments to the Aboriginal community and other diverse cultural groups are purposefully designed to be flexible and evolve the way we operate and engage with the public to ensure everyone feels welcome, safe and valued.
“Our new expanded training approach not only reinforces acceptable and respectful behaviour, it is helping to make us individually better at the jobs we do. The newly created Edmonton City Centre Community Network -Aboriginal Council will ensure that we are engaged, approachable, responsive and inclusive. We will focus the good work we do in the community by encouraging all of our employees to use their annual community volunteer day to contribute to neighbourhood partners. Most of all, we respect that this is a journey for everyone, and we look forward to every step along the way. So far, the experiences have been rewarding for us and give us a much better understanding of what others are doing.”
Edmonton City Centre has gone a step further when it comes to welcoming its Aboriginal shopping customers. All of the mall’s electronic and video walls are displaying “welcome” greetings in several Indigenous languages, including Cree, Stoney and Blackfoot.
“I am also in the process of locating translations for our Athabaskan customers who speak Dene; this includes the Chipewyan, Sarcee and Gwich’in peoples,” explained Burns, who noted that Edmonton City Centre is also “keeping the city of Edmonton apprised as we frequently meet with their Aboriginal Relations office. We will continue this healing path and are setting up meetings with the executive directors from Boyle Street, The Bissell Centre, and Hope Mission.”
The mall is also working with the Boyle Street Suicide Prevention group and has been in contact with the Edmonton-based Council of Women’s Shelters.
“Working with some of these groups has been a real eye-opener for us,” assured Burns, who said that
“these groups live and breathe the work they are doing and we are working in an effort to understand the daily challenges they face so we can come together and work together for the betterment of all of our community members.”
Edmonton City Centre is also developing outreach programs that are scheduled to be up and running later this fall and for the 2016 Christmas season.
For more information on this and other Edmonton City Centre initiatives see the website at: www.edmontoncitycentre.com.